Appraising the Nigerian National Housing Policy Delivery

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With poor administration, inadequate funding, insufficient infrastructural amenities, as well as inadequate housing finance identified as  problems   associated  with  the  implementation  of  the Nigerian National housing policies in Nigeria , Emileo Castrol  considers  housing  policy  in  Nigeria  as  a  tool  for  national development,  by  examining  the importance of housing in the attainment of sustainable development, various housing strategies  programmes  and  policies  that  have  emerged  in  Nigeria, housing  problems in Nigeria,  housing  as  a  policy,  as  well  as  the  national  housing  policy.  With a fresh  promise  two weeks ago by the government  to deliver one million homes yearly, Bnlpulse compares the housing deficits, measurable gaps, the many promises and the demands yet unmet till date…

Housing is a crucial basic need of every human being just as food and clothing.  It is very fundamental to the welfare, survival and health of man. Hence, housing  is one  of the  best indicators  of  a  person’s  standard  of  living  and  his  place  in  the  society.  The location and type of housing can determine or affect the status of man in the society.  Shelter is central to the existence of man, and it involves access to land, and the necessary amenities to make same functional, convenient, aesthetically pleasing, safe and hygienic. Hence, unsanitary, unhygienic, unsafe and inadequate housing can affect the security, physical health and privacy of man.  Invariably, the performance of  the  housing  sector  is  one  of  the  yardsticks  by which  the  health  of  a  nation  is  measured.

Nigeria, presently ranking as the 31st-largest economy in the world by GDP (397,472 million US$). The top 10 countries by GDP (nominal) are: World, United States, China, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, France, India, Italy, Brazil, and Canada. The Human Development Index (HDI) shows in 2012 that Nigeria is ranked 156 with the value of 0.459 among 187 countries. As of 2015, Nigeria’s HDI is ranked 152nd at 0.514. The comparative value for Sub-Saharan Africa is 0.475, 0.910 for the US, and 0.694 for the world average.

Nigeria’s economic freedom score is 57.3, making its economy the 111th freest in the 2019 Index. Nigeria is ranked 14th among 47 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is above the regional average but below the world average.

The housing and construction sector, if properly administered, has the capacity to produce a tremendous multiplier effect on the broader economy of any nation through forward linkages to the financial markets and backward linkages to land, building materials, furniture and labour markets. Nigeria is estimated as of 2015 to have a housing deficit of approximately 17 million and it is projected that about 59. 5 trillion Naira will be required to remedy the gap in this sector. Of all the challenges to the housing sector, limited access to finance stands as a major drawback requiring immediate intervention. The issue with finance can be traceable to underdevelopment in our mortgage industry as it reportedly generated less than 200,000 transactions between 1960 and 2014.

According to the World Bank Report (2015), the contribution of mortgage financing to Nigeria’s GDP is close to negligible, with real estate contributing less than 5% and mortgage loans and advances at 0.5% of GDP.

Following the Second World War there was an acute housing shortage and local authorities were encouraged to build as many houses as possible as quickly as possible. That was occurring because there was a lack of resale inventory as well as a lack of new construction inventory, which in turn was caused by a labour shortage, lack of housing lots and other kinds of higher construction costs.

There have been shortfall in housing deficit for a while now, but 2018 was the year where there was a really huge and noticeable effect on housing demand. Noticeably, the government accords relatively low priority to housing in their overall scheme of national development, and the volume of construction generally falls short of housing  demands .

The  approach  to  housing  policy  in  Nigeria  has  tended  to  oscillate  between  the  ‘welfare  mixed  economy’  and  the  ‘free  market  model’.  The  conventional  wisdom  today  is  that  “government  has  no  business  building  houses”,  and  that  governments  should  focus on providing favourable investment climates, infrastructure and mortgage facilities to low-to-middle income families.

However, stronger arguments seem to justify state involvement in housing. Protagonists of this school  often  rationalise  their  stand  on  the  premise  that:  housing  is  a  necessity  of  life  and  a  social  right;  it  affects  productivity  (individual  and  national);  bad  housing  can  have  negative  physical  and  mental  impact  upon  its  occupants,  and  produce  negative  externalities  on  society.  In  addition,  the  workings  of  an  unregulated  competitive  market  cannot  expect  to  produce  outcomes  which  are  entirely in accord with social needs and egalitarian political objectives. Hence, the government must help meet the needs of the poor, the under-privileged and those who cannot fend for themselves. The fundamental  case  for  government  intervention  in  housing  is  that  market  forces  alone  cannot  ensure  an  adequate stock or a fair distribution of housing.

In 1961, the World Health Organisation stated that a good house should have the following items: A good roof to keep out the rain, good walls and doors to protect against bad weather and to keep out animals. Sunshades all around the house to protect it from direct sunlight in hot weather and wire nettings at windows and doors to keep out insects like house flies and mosquitoes. In  essence,  housing  quality  can  be  judged  from  the  physical  appearance  of  the  buildings,  facilities  provided, quality  of  wall used  in the building construction,  eminence  of the roofing  materials, condition  of  other structural components  of  the  house,  and  the  environmental  condition  of  the  house.

Some of the problems  attributable to the  inadequacy  of  housing  in terms of quality and quantity results in poor standard of the environment include  of  lack  of  amenities,  poor  maintenance,  strained relationships between public housing residents and management, and chronic financial crisis have been mentioned as recurring themes of state-controlled, public housing.

Although housing is a universal need, its provision has assumed diverse approaches – in terms of policy  instruments  and  institutions  –  in  Nigeria and different  parts  of  the  world.  Housing  issues  and  policy  problems  are  both  global  and  inherently  local-specific  to  a  given  time  and  place.  One  of  the  major  responses  to  the  housing  challenge  has  been  Public  housing. It  has  taken  varied  forms  in  different  geographical  contexts  and  other  descriptive  terms  are  sometimes  used  in  its  place  –  such  as  social  housing,  state-housing,  state-sponsored  housing,  welfare  housing,  non-profit  housing,  low-cost  housing,  affordable  housing,  and  mass  housing.

In this sense, the Nigerian Housing Policy was promulgated in 1991 in order to address housing problems. The programmes of action in the policy include construction technology, housing finance, land and infrastructure, building materials, labour management, housing allocation, monitoring and review. The big question – since the inception of this promulgation, has Nigeria’s Housing Policy address the role of government and lived to its billing?

According to Managing Director, Pentagon  Real Estate Investment Ltd, Kennedy Okoruwa, ‘’ A  most comprehensive  housing policy should address  the role of government  which  may vary from the planning and  control  of all aspects  of  housing production -land, investment, construction and  occupancy -to intervention only at certain levels  or when solutions are  needed to specific problems involving such  matters as land use plans and  controls,  credit  and  financial  aids,  subsidies  to  low  income  groups,  rent  control,  slum  clearance and  re-location’’

Highlighting housing problems which are peculiar to both rich and poor nations, as well as developed and developing countries, Managing Director, Pazino Homes and Gardens, Patrick Agbaza said, ‘‘certain problems   are   associated   with housing   worldwide.   They   include   shortage   of   housing   (qualitatively   and quantitatively), homelessness, government short-sightedness about the needs of the people, access to building land, house cost in relation to specification and space standard, as well as high interest rate of home loans.  The reasons for  shortage  of  housing  in  Nigeria  include  poverty,  high  rate  of  urbanization,  high  cost  of  building  materials,  as well  as  rudimentary  technology  of  building.’’

Although  the  federal  and  some  state government  intervened  by  providing  mass  housing,  only  the  rich  and  the  privileged  can  afford  it. The intervention  of  government  include  the  formation  of  federal  housing  authority,  the  establishment  of  the Federal  Mortgage  Bank  of  Nigeria,  as  well  as  the  creation  of  the  Ministry  of  Housing,  Urban  Development  and Environment. Nevertheless,  in  spite  of  government’s  effort  to  tackle  the  housing problems,  the Nigerian housing situation is still in crisis, and sustainable housing delivery has been seriously hampered.

In  order  to  achieve  sustainable  housing  delivery  in  Nigeria,  numerous  housing  strategies,  programmes  and policies have emerged from colonial era to date.  However, the United Nations declaration of ‘Housing for all by the  year  2000’  geared  up  the  formulation  of  the  renowned  Nigerian  Housing  Policy.

In  essence,  the  declaration suggested  that  housing  problem  could  be  solved  within  the  given  time  frame.   Thus,  in  1991,  the  National Housing  Policy  was  promulgated  in  order  to  propose  possible  solutions  to  housing  problems  in  Nigeria.

At the inception, the basic goal of the policy was to provide affordable housing to accommodate Nigerian households in liveable environment.  Disgusting  however,  twenty  eight  years  after  the  promulgation  of  the  policy,  and  nineteen years  after  2000,  many  Nigerians  are  still  homeless  while  several  others  are  living  in  indecent  houses  up  to  this time.

Housing problems abound in Nigeria both in rural areas and urban centres.  The problem in the rural areas has to do with qualitative housing while the problems in the urban centre is quantitative in  nature.  Housing problems in the  rural  areas  are  connected  with  qualitative  deficiencies  like  place,  degree  of  goodness  and  the  value  of  the house.

On the other hand, urban housing problems include homelessness slum dwelling, squatting and overcrowding. High rate  of urbanization,  ever-increasing population  of urban  dwellers in  conjunction  with the  increasing social expectations  of  the  people  are  all  responsible  for  housing  problems  in  Nigeria.

The problems of urbanization are inadequate housing, unplanned development, improper maintenance of existing structures, aging, absence of social infrastructure, waste management menace, crime, and health hazard.  Additionally,  the  houses  in  the  urban  core  areas  are  characterized  by  inadequate  infrastructural  facilities,  poor ventilation, non-availability of in-built toilet and kitchen, as well as poor refuse disposal system.  Other problems that  are  associated  with  urban  housing  are  lack  of  effective  planning,  development  of  shanty  towns, and availability of dilapidated houses.

Generally,  housing  in  Nigeria  is  bombarded  with  problems  like  poverty,  discrimination  against  the  use  of indigenous materials, ineffective housing finance, inadequate financial instrument for mobilization of funds, high cost  of  building  materials  shortage of  infrastructural  facilities,  as  well  as  the  bureaucracies  in  land  acquisition, processing of certificate of occupancy (C of O), and approval of building plans.

Other  constraints  to  housing  development,  maintenance  and  delivery  are  lack  of  effective  planning,  ineffective government  programmes  and  policies,  uncontrolled  private  sector  participation,  weak  institutional  frameworks and  poor  research  and  development  into  housing.

It is instructive to note that housing is inextricably interrelated with broader issues of inflation, income policy, and perplexing range of difficult social and economic trends. All these challenges culminate in the ever-increasing demand that cannot be met by supply.

Appraising the  national housing policy, vis-à-vis the Federal government’s resolve to address the housing deficit by delivering one million houses per year to close the 17 million shortfall by the year 2033.The Managing Director, Design Genre, Anthony Okoye said, ‘‘—–‘

Appraising  Nigeria’s National Housing Delivery Policy, the policy  provides  the  foundation upon which actions are based and addressed vital issues in housing provision like prototype designs,  urban  housing,  rural  housing,  access  to  land,  affordable  housing  cost,  the  use  of  local  materials  (with consideration for climate and culture), as well as the preference of the users. It empowered the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria to provide loan for housing research, construction and delivery, the Nigerian Building and Research Institute was also empowered to make adequate research into housing construction and delivery in Nigeria.  Also, the Standard Organisation of Nigeria was bestowed with the responsibility of ensuring the delivery of standard materials and buildings. Other organizations that were facilitated include the Real Estate Development Association of Nigeria (REDAN) and the Building Materials Producers Association of Nigeria (BUMPAN). These organisations seem deficient in their responsibilities as not much is seen or heard of them.

With the promulgation in  December, 1989 of the Mortgage Institution  Decree  no  53  also  providing  a  legal  framework  for  the  operations  of  primary  mortgage  institutions  in Nigeria, not much has been seen of the involvement and participation of the government, non-governmental agencies and  community-based  organizations  in  housing  production  and  delivery.

On  the  other  hand,  the  efforts  have  not  shown remarkable  improvement  in  the status  quo since  many  Nigerians  are  still  homeless  while  up  till  this  time,  many are living in dingy and ramshackle structures.  Another major criticism of the policy lies in the area of monitoring, evaluation and review.  With the government’s pronouncement to build 17 million homes before 2023, would it be another episode of failed and veiled political promises or actions?

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